“If I could write a letter, to me…”
The Brad Paisley tune came to mind most recently as I sat under the oak trees by my neighbors tank, plucking beautiful little quail for dinner that evening. Like the song suggests, if I could write a letter to my seventeen year old self about this moment but mostly, I’d love to see my face twist in horror as I read it.
Growing up I never thought I would play a direct roll in where my food comes from, other then gardening here and there. Having hunted for years now, Adam and I have started to dip our toes into raising our own food, if only by accident really. We recently acquired two pigs, raised them for 7 months and butchered. Our neighbor Cody started to raise domestic quail, mainly for dog training, and we were given eggs to incubate and raise ourselves. Our excitement for quail farming was only solidified when we ate the life changing fried quail sandwich at Dai Due, a restaurant in Austin owned by my dear friend chef Jesse Griffiths.
About 5 months in to raising quail, Cody called one day with a dilemma- he had too many roosters and asked if we wanted to process them. I said yes immediately, knowing exactly what that meant. I’d have to play a hand in the death of these birds. The three of us butchered 27 quail the next day. I was in charge of catching them, to which I said goodbye to each one, and Cody and Adam did the deed. Quick and simple- these birds only had one bad day in their entire lives. The three of us spent the afternoon plucking the quail meticulously down by the pond. That is when I realized that my journey into sustainably and ethically sourced food had reached a new level and I needed to pay homage to these birds with a delicious meal.
Adam and I first ate Karraange style chicken this year in of all places, Las Vegas, at the most amazing ramen noodle restaurant. Karraange means “fried” in Japanese and this dish could be served as an appetizer or entrée. Either way its quite easy and sure to wow your guests! That evening I served our delicious little farm raised quail to friends, including our generous neighbor Cody, on our porch with venison broth pho. Enjoy!
- 8 quail, plucked, deboned(ish) I say ish because you can leave the bones in the legs and cut in half (16 halves total)
- 1 tablespoon of grated fresh ginger
- 2 tablespoons grated garlic
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons sake (Japanese rice wine)
- 1 tablespoon white pepper
- About 1 cup potato flour (potato flour is key, this gives it the extra crunch!)
- Favorite frying oil
- Sea salt
- Mix quail, ginger, garlic, soy sauce, sake, and white pepper in a bowl. Let marinate for at least a half hour.
- Heat oil in dutch oven, enough for deep frying.
- Dip your quail halves in the potato flour, massaging into each bird so they are completely covered.
- Fry in batches (don’t crowd your birds too much) 3-4 minutes. They will float and turn a golden brown when ready.
- Place on a papertowel lined sheet pan and salt immediately when they come out of the hot oil. Place in the oven on warm until all your quail are ready.
- Serve with a yummy soy dipping sauce as an appetizer, as the main course over rice or noodles or add to a salad the next day for an elevated, easy meal.